weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Many Las Vegas Valley shoppers don masks as Trump issues new guidance

Updated April 3, 2020 - 4:58 pm

Many shoppers in the Las Vegas Valley on Friday were already heeding new federal guidance advising people to wear face masks when venturing out in public, even before it was actually issued.

Spot checks of shopping centers in Henderson and Las Vegas, many of them conducted hours before President Donald Trump and the White House coronavirus task force formalized the recommendation, found that one-third to half of shoppers were wearing masks.

Dan Watson, 70, and his wife, Debbie, 71, were among many shoppers who had only started wearing their masks Friday for a grocery run to a Vons store in Henderson after hearing that the new guidelines were expected to be announced shortly.

Dan Watson said bought the masks in November when he had a cold and was grateful to have them on hand given the current shortage for hospital workers, let alone members of the public.

“They help keep you from touching your face,” Debbie noted.

Cosmin Malita, 30, of southwest Las Vegas, was likewise masked for his first grocery-buying excursion after self-isolating in his home for two weeks.

‘Everyone should. It won’t hurt’

“I just started wearing a mask today, just to be more safe,” he said, as he waited outside a nearby Trader Joe’s. “Everyone should. It won’t hurt.”

In announcing the recommendation Friday afternoon at a White House briefing, Trump said the administration is encouraging many Americans to wear face masks in public. He stressed that the recommendation is optional and indicated he does not intend to comply with it, saying, “I’m choosing not to do it.”

The new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages people, especially in areas hit hard by the spread of the coronavirus, to use rudimentary coverings like T-shirts, bandannas and non-medical masks to cover their faces while outdoors.

The new guidance, announced at a time when states are bracing for critical protective equipment shortfalls, has raised concern among some experts that it could cause a sudden run on masks if Americans turn to private industry to meet the expected surge in demand.

Trump and other administration officials sought to minimize any burden by stressing the use of homemade coverings was perfectly acceptable. Federal officials also stressed that surgical masks and N95 respirators should be left for those on the front lines of fighting the spread of the infection.

Sheffield Abella, 50, of southwest Las Vegas is a fan of the homemade masks his wife has made, and has been wearing them for weeks before venturing out to get groceries.

“My wife makes so many I wear a different one every day,” he said. “It’s good because we can wash them, but you don’t want to be caught wearing the same mask twice!”

“Some people have been nonchalant (about wearing protection), but I’d rather be cautious,” he added. “My parents are old and my wife has asthma.”

While the elderly and people with other underlying health conditions are most at risk of serious complications from COVID-19, masks also seemed to be catching on among younger shoppers.

Kristin Villagomez, 24 and Carlos Mendoza, 23, were among those who put on masks for the first time Friday to shop at Sam’s Club at Arroyo Crossing in southwest Las Vegas.

The Spring Valley pair said they have been leaving home only occasionally for groceries. They advised that everyone should be wearing protection of some sort.

“Everyone needs to help everyone at this point,” Mendoza said.

‘Viruses and infections are no joke’

Kathleen Harris, 57, and her mother, Martha Sherifl, 83, both wore gloves and masks for their weekly shopping. Harris is a retired ICU nurse with COPD and asthma who said the new coronavirus can’t be taken seriously enough.

“I know how scary it is,” she said. “Viruses and infections are no joke.”

Not everyone was ready to shield their faces, though.

Michelle Merryman, 42 of Henderson, said she’s most concerned about her elderly neighbors, one of whom she’s taking on daily walks.

But she said her family is healthy and secluded, so she didn’t feel masks were necessary.

And Carl Heiserman, 72, a Sun City Anthem resident, said he’s trusting his government and his gloves to keep him safe.

“About the only time I’ll wear anything is the grocery store,” he said, slipping on a pair of black gloves outside Vons.

He said he’d wear a mask only if he was coming close to people, which he said he doesn’t do when he’s shopping.

Back at Trader Joe’s, where a long line of shoppers was waiting admittance while standing 6 feet apart, Lauren Serban, 30, said her anxiety was running high as she waited to do the shopping while her 68-year-old father remained in their Henderson house.

Serban said she was carrying hand sanitizer and leaving her shoes at the door. But she drew the line there.

“I’m not wearing masks even though I know I should, because they make me feel weird,” she said.

Contact Sabrina Schnur at sschnur@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Local Videos
Fremont Street Experience is counting down to reopening - Video
A countdown clock is running for the reopening of the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas on Friday afternoon, May 29, 2020. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CrossFit Apollo reopens after COVID-19 shutdown - Video
CrossFit Apollo gym co-owner and a member talk about their first day back, Friday, May 29, 2020, after gyms and fitness centers were closed during the coronavirus shutdown. (Glenn Puit and Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gym owner Rob Martinez talks about reopening.
Rob Martinez, owner of The Gym Las Vegas, talks about reopening his gym under Phase Two of Nevada's reopening plan. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas gyms reopen.
Desiree Ford talks about getting back to the gym after Nevada moves into Phase Two of its reopening plan. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CrossFit gym reopens
Chad Cole, co-owner of CrossFit Apollo, talks about the reopening of his gym as Nevada moves into Phase Two. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Train carrying decommissioned nuclear reactor passes through Las Vegas - VIDEO
The train carrying a decommissioned nuclear reactor vessel from Southern California is passing through Las Vegas on Thursday afternoon. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MountainView Hospital protest
Nurses at MountainView Hospital in Las Vegas hold a protest Thursday morning over what they say are planned layoffs and pay cuts by the hospital’s owner, HCA Healthcare. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
COVID-19 testing site moves to UNLV Tropicana parking garage - Video
New Clark County COVID-19 testing site at UNLV Tropicana Avenue parking garage opens Wednesday and includes pediatric and walk-up testing. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Motorcyclist killed in crash in southwest Las Vegas - Video
Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Travis Smaka confirmed a motorcyclist was killed in a crash with another vehicle at Durango Drive and the 215 Beltway just before 9 a.m., Monday, May 25, 2020. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas man runs 100-mile marathon for veterans on Memorial Day - Video
Pete Madredes ran a 100-mile marathon at Exploration Peak Park in Las Vegas to raise money for Mission 22, a nonprofit that supports veterans with mental illness. He started Sunday morning, May 24, and ended Memorial Day morning. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Neon Museum reopens after coronavirus shutdown - Video
The Neon Museum reopened Friday night, May 22, after it shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Working at home with kids
Educators Jessica Houchins and Christopher Houchins discuss their work life merged with their parenting life during quarantine, at their home in Henderson on Thursday, May 14, 2020. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
6.5 earthquake in western Nevada - Video
A 6.5-magnitude earthquake damaged U.S. Highway 95, which was closed west of Tonopah near Coaldale, on Friday, May 15, 2020. (Nye County Sheriff's Department)
Southern Nevada Health District discusses contact tracing
Devin Raman, senior disease investigator at SNHD, explains how contact tracing works, noting how local clusters of disease are tracked.
Cowabunga Bay Prepares For Patrons
The management and staff at Cowabunga Bay in hopes of opening soon are implementing coronavirus safety measures to ensure patrons are happy and safe.
Pickleball courts coming to Sunset Park - Video
Clark County officials broke ground Tuesday on a championship pickleball tournament complex at Sunset Park, expected to open by next spring. (Clark County)
Great-grandmother meets great-granddaughter through window
A global pandemic couldn't keep June Watkins from meeting her 1-month-old great-granddaughter, even if it had to be through a window. Christie Jensen, the baby's mother, brought together four generations of women with her mother, DeeDee Jensen, when they brought the baby to meet Watkins for the first time ahead of Mother's Day on Sunday.
Firefighters deliver free pizza to coronavirus testers - VIDEO
The Professional Firefighters of Nevada delivered free pizza and soft drinks to Nevada National Guard members and health care workers who are performing COVID-19 testing at the UNLV School of Medicine. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police investigate fatal crash - VIDEO
One person died at University Medical Center after a two-vehicle crash at West Russell and South Fort Apache roads, Thursday morning, May 7. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Southern Nevada Health District COVID-19 update
Southern Nevada Health District staff conduct a video briefing to provide updates about the public health agency’s COVID-19 response in Clark County.
Greg Zanis, the cross maker, has died - VIDEO
Greg Zanis was the Illinois carpenter who built and erected the 58 simple white crosses in the shadow of the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign that turned into a focal point for a city’s grief after the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting in 2017. He died on Monday, May 4, 2020. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Seniors, people with disabilities getting special shopping hour at Costco - VIDEO
Costco will implement new rules Monday that, in addition to requiring face masks, will allow seniors 60 and older to shop from 9-10 a.m. weekdays. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Henderson Coalition for Responsible Government protest
Henderson Coalition for Responsible Government protest. (Julie Wootton-Greener/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Desert Oasis students celebrate senior prom with parade - VIDEO
Desert Oasis High School’s senior prom was supposed to be held Saturday, but it was canceled when schools statewide were closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Henderson winery reacts to Sisolak's economic plan - VIDEO
Governor Sisolak's reopening plan is easier said than done for the only winery in Clark County. Grape Expectations is trying to figure out how to open up shop when they are three businesses in one. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Locals rush to reopened tennis courts
Daniel Nunez and Sarah Germain made immediate plans to go to their local tennis court, Darling Tennis Center, when they received an email that the facility would open on May 1.
Allegiant Air employees deliver snacks and drinks to food pantry - VIDEO
Allegiant Air donated food items to the Vegas Community Pantry in Las Vegas. The snack and drinks are commissary items that Allegiant planned to serve to passengers who were flying to Las Vegas for March Madness. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Health care workers protest over unsafe working conditions - VIDEO
Healthcare workers from Service Employees International Union (SEIU) gather at Southern Hills Hospital to protest unsafe working conditions at Las Vegas HCA-affiliated hospitals and demand that OSHA intervene. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
You had questions, and we've got the answers! Renee Summerour sits down with Dr. Brian Labus, epidemiologist with the UNLV School of Public Health and member of the governor's medical advisory team, and RJ health reporter Mary Hynes to answer viewer questions regarding the coronavirus spread in Nevada. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal) THIS WEEK WE COVERED A LOT OF TOPICS: 1. POSTPONED MEDICAL/DENTAL PROCEDURES 2. GOV. SISOLASK ANNOUNCES TO EXTEND STAY-AT-HOME ORDER 3. THIS THE STAY AT HOME ORDER PART OF THE "ROAD TO RECOVERY PLAN"? 4. WILL THERE BE A MASK REQUIREMENT STATEWIDE? 5. DOES WEATHER PLAN A ROLE IN THE SPREAD OF COVID-19? 6. WHERE IS NEVADA THIS WEEK ON ANTIBODY TESTING? 7. MYTH: AIR CONDITIONER CAN CAUSE CORONAVIRUS 8. IS IT SAFE TO GO BACK OUTSIDE? BEACHES? HIKING? ETC?
Fire at strip mall in east Las Vegas - VIDEO
Firefighters battle a blaze at Nellis Plaza at 1000 N. Nellis Blvd. in east Las Vegas, Wednesday, April 29, 2020. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas City Hall marks Israeli Independence Day - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Hall’s lights turned blue and white Tuesday night to mark Israel’s 72nd Independence Day. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lines move quickly through CCSD food distribution sites - VIDEO
Individuals pick up packaged meals from Clark County School District food distribution sites on Tuesday morning, April 28, 2020: Basic Academy of International Studies in Henderson and Kelly Elementary School in Las Vegas. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Neighborhood rallies behind grad amid the coronavirus lockdown
Riley Lynn Thacker's mom put a sign in their yard to congratulate her daughter completing her senior year and neighbors followed suit. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)